Remote Software Engineers or Onsite? Which is best?

Hiring remote software engineers

Last year the barriers of remote work got broken down, all because of the Coronavirus. Still, the truth is that companies who had been refusing to consider working from home, even occasionally, are now finding that distributed teams work well, and considering hiring remote software engineers that can work from all over the world. But what exactly does a remote software engineer do and how will they work? Are they gonna be productive at their remote job or should continue working on-site?

Are you unsure about what your next step should be? If you’re wondering whether your upcoming technical hires should be based in the same office, work from home, or come from another continent, we will help you figure it out during this article. Is hiring onsite technical talent your best choice? Or is hiring remote software engineers a better solution? 

What is a Remote Software Engineer?

Remote software engineers are computer science professionals who use the same engineering principles and programming languages to build software products, develop computer games, applications, network control systems, as regular software engineers. The only major difference lies in their location; remote software developers perform their job from home or another remote location outside of the office and apart from their team.

To understand the various components of being a remote software developer and whether it’s the right hiring choice for your organization, it helps to know what their main roles and responsibilities are.

Remote Software Engineer Roles and Responsibilities

The roles and responsibilities of a software engineer will vary depending on your organization’s needs. But in general, hiring software engineers implies responsibilities such as: 

  • Improving the quality of a system by identifying issues and common patterns.
  • Developing standard operating procedures.
  • Researching and designing new software programs/applications.
  • Improving applications as well as designing and implementing systems. 
  • Maintaining existing codebases.
  • Implementing technical designs
  • Evaluating the software and systems that make computers and hardware work.
  • Investigating new relevant technologies.
  • Providing operational documentation.
  • High degree of self- discipline
  • Self starter
  • Time management skills

Either you’re hiring your first new software engineer or you are a job seeker and looking for a remote software engineering job, these are the qualification needed for the job.

Qualifications and requirements of a remote software engineer

  • Degree in software engineering, computer science, mathematics, or related fields. 
  • Expertise in high-level programming languages (Java, C++).
  • Understanding of algorithms and data structures.
  • Analytical and reasoning skills.
  • Soft skills
  • Proficiency in troubleshooting software issues.

How to Decide if You Should Hire a Remote or Onsite Software Engineer?

If you need to hire software engineers, you are probably wondering what will be best for your business: to hire remote or onsite? By now, it’s likely one of your business-owning friends has told you that he hired a remote developer from eastern Europe, and it was the best decision he ever made. Or you heard from Bob who hired a remote software engineer from a different state, and it was a fiasco and a nightmare, all at once. Bob made you believe hiring onsite is your best bet.

As each business and team performs under different dynamics, there is no right or wrong answer. What might work for you might not work for other teams. To know what’s the best decision for hiring software engineers, you need to lay out all the cards on the table. 

Start by understanding the pros and cons of hiring both remote or onsite and review your company’s processes, workflow, technology, and tools. Making this evaluation will help you determine if your business can manage a remote engineer or if it’s better to have an onsite engineer. 

But don’t worry, we took the liberty of doing this for you. We analyzed both the pros and cons of hiring remote software engineers and onsite. Might be a bit bias, after all, we are a recruitment agency specialized in finding remote developers from all over the world and placing them in the right company.

Pros and Cons of Hiring Remote Software Engineers

Pros and cons of hiring remote software engineers

Advantages of Hiring Remote Software Engineers:

1. Increases Productivity

Productivity is one of the main benefits of hiring remote workers. A recent Stanford study showed the difference between working with remote workers vs. on-site workers. The results? Remote workers were more productive, took fewer sick days, didn’t start to work late because they avoided commutes, took shorter breaks, among other things. 

Hiring remote software engineers means you’ll have employees that work in their own distraction-free environment. Instead of bringing the stress of commuting to work, they can work in their home office or the café nearby. They’re feeling fresh and ready to work, not aching, with high blood pressure and festering grudges against the guy who cut them up on the freeway. 

2. Increases Employee Retention

It is the respect for work/life balance that gives remote companies their boost in employee retention. Although it’s not technically a perk, working from home is something that as many as 90% of people want to be able to do. If you offer remote work as part of your package, that’s one way to set yourself apart from your competition when it comes to enticing the very best staff.

However, hiring remote workers is not only about retaining talent. It also enables you to include a wide range of people who wouldn’t be able to work in a regular on-site setting. That’s the case of new parents who don’t want to leave their young children at home. Same thing for people with disabilities, or people living with illnesses: home is the best place for them to work. Staff who face barriers to employment are always grateful for companies who will go out of their way to accommodate them.

3. Reduces Costs

When you have a remote team, you’ll instantly experience the financial benefits. Just think about it; your team produces more, they’re present more often, and you’re less likely to have to meet the costs of replacing them – that’s all good news for the bottom line. 

But that isn’t where it stops. Real estate costs are a significant burden on many companies, and if you find yourself needing to expand quickly, the lack of brick-and-mortar premises will become the main obstacle. This doesn’t happen with remote teams. You’ll notice that many companies are hiring remote workers to scale quickly, and some of the brightest new stars have fully remote teams. 

4. Bigger Talent Pool 

One of the biggest benefits of hiring remote software engineers is that it automatically expands the talent pool. Hiring IT talent is challenging, not necessarily because there is a shortage or there are no good developers out there. The problem is that most of the talented developers in the U.S. are either working for other companies or charge exorbitant salaries.

You don’t have to go to the extreme of hiring a remote software engineer because they “are cheap” – this is also a common misconception. If you want to hire a remote developer from another country because you want to pay cheap salaries, chances are you’re going to get cheap results as well. However, you could hire a talented remote developer who charges less than one from the U.S. and get excellent results. It all depends on your objectives and your approach to recruitment. 

Disadvantages of Hiring Remote Software Engineers:

1. Culture Challenges

It’s hard to work with a remote software engineer if your company is not used to working remotely. You need to have the necessary equipment, tools, and processes to help them feel part of the company. Otherwise, they could often feel left out or ignored.

It’s easier to build relationships when you’re in an onsite office, as you get to see each other and interact constantly. Being remote takes all this away, making communication and overall culture much more intentional. 

2. Different Languages

You could hire an extremely talented Ukrainian software engineer, what’s the point if they can’t speak English fluently? Google Translate will not help you out here; to understand the projects and tasks, a software engineer needs  to stay in  constant communication with you.

One of the disadvantages of hiring a remote software engineer is that you’ll need to carefully evaluate their ability to speak and write in English. And by evaluating, we mean putting to test their skills. Sure, they could have ‘’Advanced English’’ as a skill in their CV, but there’s no way of knowing this unless you talk with them and see how well they can write and express themselves in the language. 

3. Time Zones Differences

If you hire a remote software engineer from the U.S. or Canada, this will not be a problem. But if you hire someone from the Philippines or a country in a completely different time zone, meetings and overall interactions will be mostly asynchronous. That could harm the team’s workflow and culture.

Working remotely doesn’t mean being in meetings 24/7 or having to reply to emails instantly. Async communication is highly encouraged, as each person needs time to focus on their tasks. But meetings and other team activities are also valuable for socializing, sharing feedback, or solving complex issues. If your software engineer can’t be around those, being up to date with the project or the problems arising will be almost impossible.

4. Management Challenges 

If you’re a micromanager and can’t stand the idea of not supervising your employees, then hiring a remote software engineer is not for you. You might be constantly anxious or stressed because you feel they will be taking naps all the time. Or maybe they’ll be watching the latest series instead of assuming their responsibilities. And the truth is that being a remote manager requires that you place a lot of trust in your employees, focusing more on their output. 

Pros and Cons of Hiring Onsite Software Engineers

Pros and cons of hiring onsite software engineers

Advantages of Hiring an Onsite Software Engineer

1. Increased collaboration

One of the advantages of hiring in-house software engineers is that it’s easy to foster collaboration. As you’re in the same place, whenever problems arise, you can easily go to other coworkers and look for ways to solve them. Meanwhile, other factors can slow this process down in a remote setting, as some members might be in a different time zone or work under a different work schedule. 

2. Aligned interests and goals

Successful teams, not only in IT but overall, are driven by interests and goals that move along with its values. Embracing this company culture spirit is easier when you have an in-house development team, mainly because you’re all in the same place. Additionally, communication is easier as face-to-face access helps to speed up projects and overall discussions. 

3. Long-term product development

An advantage of hiring onsite software engineers is that you also have greater chances of having long-term product development. You’re hiring employees to work exclusively for you,understanding your processes and workflows. This makes it easier to commit to products that require long-term growth and understand in-depth the project itself.

It doesn’t have to be like that when you hire remote software engineers. It depends on their contract. For example, if you hire freelancers or outsource developers, then basically, they’ll be working on their own terms, not yours. On the other hand, hiring full-time remote workers implies adapting to your company, projects, and overall processes. 

4. Build a fully dedicated team 

This advantage can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, having more control over projects can lead to great results. You are constantly ensuring that the team follows the processes, fulfills their tasks, and delivers on due dates. But on the other hand, this can lead to burnout and higher stress levels from the side of the software engineers as they might feel micromanaged. It’s all about the balance and the type of leadership you implement while managing a software engineering team.   

Disadvantages of Hiring an Onsite Software Engineer

1. It’s expensive

Let’s say your company is in the United States. Each state has different salary ranges, and salary depends on what type of software engineer you need (junior-level, mid-level, or senior-level). But, in general terms, the salary of a software engineer in the U.S. moves along $90K – $107K. Depending on your budget, that can be either cheap or expensive. When you compare it to other countries, you’ll realize that IT talent in the U.S. is costly, and there is no guarantee that a high salary will mean you’ll be getting a talented software engineer. There are other countries with the best programmers in the world with more affordable salaries

2. Reduced talent pool

If you’re lucky enough, your area might have great IT talent. You start your recruitment process, and, in a month, you have covered your position successfully. But let’s be real, a smooth IT hiring process almost never happens (unless you get the help of IT recruitment agencies). It’s a back-and-forth process between interviews and realizing candidates don’t have the skills they say they have. All this drama can be avoided, however, when you start looking remotely. You have a wider range of possibilities and candidates than just staying with a small radius of professionals. 

3. Less attractive option for software engineers

If one thing the pandemic taught all businesses and professionals is that remote work works! Surveys and studies prove that employees want to continue working remotely. No one wants to go back to the office. And software engineers are no exception. Offering flexible arrangements and the possibility to work remotely automatically puts your company on a whole new level. Yes, they could get offers from other companies with bigger salaries but having a better work-life balance is something that can’t be put under a price tag. 

4. High turnover rate

The IT industry is one of the most competitive industries. You can get a talented software engineer, but nothing guarantees they’ll be working for you for a long time. Especially when other companies offer them better perks such as higher salaries, flexible schedules, or remote work. Recruiting and hiring onsite software engineers is tough, but keeping them engaged for a long time is even harder. 

Distantjob Can Help You Hire A Dedicated Remote Software Engineer

Hiring has traditionally relied on your company trying to find the right software engineers within commuting distance of your business, or those willing to relocate to your area. That leads to clusters of very talented people in certain areas of the world, like Silicon Valley, for example. But what if you’re not based in that area? Are you supposed to just put up with the best that is willing to work in your location?

Of course not. This is, in our opinion, the single most important benefit of remote working. You no longer have to put your metaphorical worm on a hook and throw out your line; now, you can cast a wide net. We know that because we work with developers all day. There is a vast ocean of talent out there.

That’s where we come in. Think of us as just the right bait, or maybe we’re giving you a map of the fishing waters; these fishing metaphors are getting harder, so let’s wrap up: if you need to hire a remote software engineer, start by asking the key questions in your interview or seek our help. We’ll take the time to get to know your company as well as all the technical details you care about in your new hire. Then we’ll create a shortlist of candidates, all pre-screened, for you to choose from. You could have your new hire on board in under two weeks.

If you’re still not sure where you stand on the remote vs. in-office software engineer question, then get in touch today, and we’ll do our best to help you out. And if you are looking for a remote software engineering job, check our remote job openings here.

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Ihor

Ihor

Ihor leads the team at the core of what makes DistantJob successful – our incredible recruitment team! With over 8 years of experience as an IT recruitment professional, Ihor’s experience covers the whole breadth of the staffing and recruitment lifecycle – from sourcing and recruiting top-notch developers himself, to leading teams of recruiters.